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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  February 11, 2011 1:00pm-3:00pm EST

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>> that's happening in tahrir square. let's reset. it's the top of the hour right now. we're standing by 30 minutes from now we'll be hearing from the president of the united states. he'll be addressing the nation, indeed, the world. most specifically he'll be addressing the people of egypt in a half an hour from the white house. we'll, of course, have live coverage of that. we're down in the square, tahrir square, we're all over cairo, outside of cairo in egypt there is massive celebration under way right now. the celebration because within the past few hours, it's become official. the egyptian president hosni mubarak is no longer the president of egypt. his vice president made the announcement on egyptian television saying that the military, the egyptian military now specifically the high council of the egyptian military will supervise implementation on this road to democracy to free and fair elections probably easier said than done but there's celebration throughout
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egypt right now because there's high confidence and support for the egyptian military. the thought is if anyone can implement this transition away from dictatorship towards democracy, the military, which is highly respected can do it. we'll see if that is doable. in fact, we're not only getting reaction from inside egypt, you can see the flag waving, the celebratory events going on but getting reaction from all of our correspondents from around the world. anderson cooper is joining us in our coverage today, so is hala gorani. guy, a lot of us who watched egypt over the years, watched the middle east over the years can't really believe what's going on within 18 days, a dictator is removed. there was some violence but it could have been so much worse. thousands of people could have been killed. human rights watch says more than 300 were killed. there still are plenty of people in prison right now but at least this is a step forward and both of you were there, anderson.
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let me go to you right now as we await to hear from the president of the united states. i want our viewers here in the united states and around the world on cnn international to get a flavor of this historic moment. >> i just got word that president obama will no longer be speaking at 1:30. we do still expect him to speak, though, it's not clear at what time he will be speaking but that 1:30 time we're told is no longer the time that he will be speaking. but it is a remarkable turn of events in 18 days, one of the most powerful dictators in the region certainly has left office. we're told he's gone to sharm el sheikh although we haven't been able to confirm that. our ben wedeman is standing by. ben, extraordinary is just the word i keep coming back to. seeing the crowds, knowing -- seeing what we have seen over these last 18 day, did you think this would come when it began, when tear gas was flying and
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riot police were attacking these protesters, did you think that they had a chance to actually do this? >> reporter: anderson, i thought they had a chance because from the very beginning, the government overreacted to everything and what they got was equal and opposite reaction from the -- to prove that they were ready to carry this battle to the very end. we saw them define a ban on the protests, we saw them incredibly organized, every time the police would crack down in one area, a crowd would show up in another. so from the very beginning, on the 25th of january, my sense was that this was not an ordinary day, that these were not just the usual small protests easily suppressed by the police, that this was a groundswell that really was not going to be stopped, and when on
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the 25th when i was in tahrir square and i saw the demonstrators pushing the police back near the parliament building, i realized that this was potentially the end of the mubarak regime, simply because they were not ready to deal with this level of public defiance of a regime that has been in place for 30 years, anderson. >> i want to bring in now hala gorani who is watching this, as well. hala? >> and, arwa damon is in the thick of it all with those protesters celebrating. we saw those tent cities earlier, arwa, because there was a small core of activists determined to spend the night there, day in, day out digging in their heels until hosni mubarak stepped down and there you have it, this sort of little village within a city within a state and it's the protesters in this square that ended up through their actions and
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determination forcing the resignation of hosni mubarak. arwa, you're in the middle of it all. what are people telling you? >> reporter: i'm sorry. could you repeat that, please? >> what are people telling you, arwa? >> reporter: oh, you see this entire sea of people in front of me, people from all walks of life, people happy, celebrating. there was a live band on the stage, very, very happy i'm being told, the egyptian people are happy. they have achieved the unimaginable and they cannot believe -- i'm just hearing from this young man that this dream has actually become a reality that they have freedom and they're going to put another young man on the phone to tell us exactly how are you feeling at this moment? >> we feel now we have --
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mubarak -- we will judge him now and -- >> reporter: there we have it. quite chaotic here. many people want to talk. everybody reiterating the fact that they do love egypt and they've completely -- people having a lot of messages. this young man also telling us that they removed mubarak in three weeks and want the entire world to know this. egyptians are the best. they want that to get out to the rest of the world. you have a message. tell us what your message is. >> the message is that you were
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born in the ole regime and it was the people that would take over which as you see -- the people, just a little bit of them, so now finally we are free from this bad regime, has been taken over, the power of the egyptians and now we're going to see egypt within the next five years be strongest in the middle east. >> reporter: what happens next? what happens tomorrow? >> what happens, everybody will cool down. everybody will go home and start working. there will be hope. before there was no hope but from now on, they will see another hope, you will see another -- we will see that we will be productive in just a few years. thank you. >> reporter: just to add on to that idea, another man that i had met a few nights ago telling us that he learned a very valuable lesson from the youth that came together to start this
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demonstration. he was saying that they can finally be positive that mubarak's regime had nothing but create negativity in the society. what they're finding that they felt they can be positive. with me right now, someone that wants to speak. i assume you've probably seen the worst of ha happened with the violence, had to treat many patients. what are your feelings right now? >> we have to be happy by the victory of our people. congratulations to all egyptians but also egyptians, we are -- our egypt, our country, love, love freedom. do things to our country, we hope that the region will be
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good. thanks. >> reporter: a lot of opinions, a lot of enthusiasm out here as you can obviously tell. people absolutely thrilled and very relieved too. one of the great concerns we had been hearing before all of the blood that had been shed here would be in vain if president mubarak did not step down but now knowing and believing that everything that they've had to sacrifice has been worth it. >> all right, arwa damon, thanks very much in tahrir square. as much as we want to talk about the future, it seems that people in cairo and the rest of egypt just want to kind of enjoy the moment. anderson? >> understandably so. i ha ivan watson is by the presidential palace. what are people there saying? ivan watson, if you can hear me
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at the presidential palace, what are people saying there? >> what do you want to do with arwa? >> clearly we're having trouble getting in touch with ivan. the presidential palace is quite a distance away from liberation square and for many days the protesters had talked about marching on the presidential palace, but there were about at least six checkpoints according to our ben wedeman, military checkpoints between liberation square and the palace, so the idea of a large crowd actually marching and being able to get there seemed unlikely and every day though there was talk about doing it. it never actually happened until a crowd actually did go there yesterday after mubarak's speech when he was expected to step down and really stunned people by not following through on that. interesting to know at some point what happened between that speech and the vice president suleiman coming on television last night saying, explaining what the president had done between then and now, what was
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it that made mubarak finally and vice president suleiman finally face reality? was it the military coming to them? was it some sort of new assessment of what was happening on the ground? again, at this point we don't know. we have just gotten a report that a swiss shorts -- this has just crossed the wires, the swiss government has asked banks in that country to freeze any assets that might belong to egypt's president hosni mubarak or his family. this according to a spokesman for the swiss embassy in washington. the swiss government saying they don't know of what funds mubarak or his family members may have in banks in switzerland, but they are authorizing and they are asking banks in the country to check and to freeze any assets that they think might belong to mubarak and the family to stop any kind of money transfers to stop any kind of money being withdrawn from any of those accounts.
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on tuesday apparently the finance minister in switzerland asked the banks to look into mubarak's assets that might be held in that country. but apparently according to him the banks yet do not have a clear picture of what kind of money is being held and here we see a group of people, the egyptian flag walking down the street. pity anyone stuck in traffic tonight in cairo. they are not going anywhere for quite a while. ivan watson is standing by. ivan, we've just heard that swiss authorities are trying -- or are asking banks in switzerland to freeze any accounts. we hear that a lot from people now. they want -- whether or not they want mubarak put on trial, they want the money that he is alleged to have taken over the years. >> reporter: that's right. i mean that was something we started hearing, anderson, in recent days amid some news reports that he had untold wealth, and we started seeing that appear in some of the protest signs, you know, that
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there should be investigations into corruption, into mubarak's alleged wealth, the wealth of his family. by the way, anderson, the sound of honking horns typically in cairo because of gridlock traffic and frustrated drivers, the sound tonight they're not honking their horns out of frustration. it's celebration and what's amazing about it is four or five hours ago, the streets of the city were eerily almost frighteningly empty, completely empty. we were able to drive through the city, not even pedestrians on the street and now the people have poured out into the streets and we're many neighborhoods away from tahrir square. the flag waving. street parties almost at every intersection. i've seen fireworks and confetti. one woman, i asked her, are you scared about what's going to come next and she said, no, because the military is taking over and i feel safe with them, and with their help, one day
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soon we'll be able to vote in presidential elections. anderson? >> and we hear those horns -- let's just listen to some of the sounds in cairo tonight. >> reporter: it's going to be a party out here all night, anderson. >> there have been some estimates, ivan, estimates of the mubarak fortune range wildly from people say $20 billion to $70 billion. often those estimates turn out to be completely or wildly inaccurate. $70 billion would make him the richest man in the world. that seems highly unlikely even $20 billion which is a low estimate would be an extraordinary sum, even a billion dollars, frankly or hundreds of millions of dollars would be extraordinary sums.
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at this point we, frankly, do not know, nor does anyone, i think, how much money the mubarak family may have been able to amass over the some 30 years of his reign. >> reporter: no, and i think one of the things that another woman i was talking to just now and she was out with her daughters out celebrating an american-egyptian woman, dual national said she tried to start up business after moving from the u.s., tried to start up a commercial business but was stopped at almost every juncture in a way by a system of corruption and graft she said that made it impossible to try to build something here and made it such that her daughters who are 18 years old, 20 years old were all planning to leave the country to study outside of egypt and pursue a life outside. they didn't see a future here, so if that is starting at the level of a small business, a
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system of graft and corruption, you can just imagine how the money would flow upwards to the pharaoh who sat at the top of that financial economic pyramid. >> and it's said the sons of mubarak have a number of companies that basically kind of get money through links with other foreign companies that do business in egypt, perhaps through the military, as well, but, again, a lot of this will no doubt be investigated down the road as already this regime in the last few days and weeks, we have seen this regime turning on itself already starting to investigate itself, kind of throwing former ministers under the bus essentially freezing their accounts in egypt, taking their passports so they can't get away from the country already investigating some of the ministers from past regimes under mubarak and now we're
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seeing some fireworks, wolf, over the square, again, extraordinary images, we have correspondents all throughout cairo and we are trying to give you as much of a sense in different parts of the city and just the scope of the celebrations tonight, wolf. >> it certainly is a celebration in cairo, the fireworks, the chanting, the singing, the happy people. a lot of them no doubt can't believe this has happened. let's listen a little bit, watch the sights and listen to the sounds. [ sounds of the crowd ]
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[ sounds of the crowd ] >> this has been a revolution, largely peaceful. there was some brutal violence, yes, for days and, unfortunately, tragically more than 300 people according to human rights watch were killed. thousands of others injured, but today they're celebrating. they're all smiles as egypt is
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free. that's what they're saying, egypt is now free. let's go to cairo right now. cnn's fionnuala sweeney is watching. tell us where you are. can you see the fireworks going off from your location? >> reporter: we certainly can. i mean, i can tell you as i look here down to my left across the nile, there is just a sea, a line of car lights and they're all heading in one direction which is tahrir square just behind me. i mean, the excitement here is palpable, obviously, but i think some thoughts are beginning to turn to what happens in the rest of the region. we've had some reaction, for example, from the united arab emirates saying they have confidence in the higher military council that's taking power, of course, the uae was rather against the protests, against particularly what it called foreign interference and also heard today from iran's
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mahmoud ahmadinejad celebrating the 32nd anniversary of the islamic revolution there saying these protests below me here and throughout the rest of the country could result in the end of what he calls u.s. and israel's interference in the region. a big question now what happens in countries like jordan. several hundred people demonstrating in jordan, two counts, one on one side of the egyptian protesters, the muslim brotherhood, they said the arab world is on fire and on the other side of those protests, a rival group calling for the ouster of the recently appointment of the jordanian prime minister and let's not forget israel watching this closely. cnn spoke to the former head of shin bat and said omar suleiman is a man israel could work with but israel where i was last week concerned particularly along the border with sinai that any instability now could affect its security. >> but the israelis like the united states have a pretty good
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relationship with the egyptian military, which at least during this transition to elections is going to be in charge. isn't that right? >> reporter: well, indeed they do and that's why the head of shin bat said omar suleiman once he gave his word he stuck by his word and a man that essentially israel could work with but everybody is really excited here as you can imagine but the dust has to settle and when it settles, eventually there will be questions back as to how the country is going to be run. will the state of emergency be lifted? will political prisoner, some ten thousand of them be released. we heard this is a fundamental question of human rights coming from the uk prime minister david cameron. >> good evening. today has been a remarkable day, particularly for those people in tahrir square and elsewhere who have spoken out so bravely and so peacefully for change in
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their country. egypt now has a really precious moment of opportunity to have a government that can bring the country together and as a friend of egypt and the egyptian people, we stand ready to help in any way that we can. we believe it must be a government that starts to put in place the building blocks of a truly open, free and democratic society. and, of course, what has happened today should only be the first step. those who now run egypt have a duty to reflect the wishes of the egyptian people and in particular there really must be a move to civilian and democratic rule as part of this important transition to an open, democratic and free egypt. thank you. >> reporter: and those views of david cameron and by the german chancellor angela merkel and european union but what we were talking about a moment ago, yes, people are excited here. hosni mubarak is gone but the
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question will remain once the dust settles and it will be some time yet has this regime changed and will it be enough to keep the country stable and the region? >> david cameron welcoming what's going on in egypt right now. the revolution has succeeded in egypt. it's now approaching 8:30. 8:22 p.m. in tahrir square right now. the celebration, i think it's fair to say at least on this night in cairo, elsewhere in egypt only just beginning. hala, it's a momentous occasion and i guess it's a cliche but history certainly is unfolding. >> absolutely and the celebration is just beginning and the process toward a true transition to democracy in egypt, if indeed that transition unfolds as protesters hope that it will is just beginning. frederik pleitgen is not too far from where the demonstrators are cheering. they're waving their flags. we saw small fireworks earlier over tahrir square. 18 days is the time that it took
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for the people in that square, the demonstrators throughout egypt to force the resignation of what people thought was one of the most stable autocracies in the middle east. 18 days. 19 days ago it was almost impossible to imagine this scenario. but today we're seeing the people of egypt celebrating. many when we asked them what comes next sort of wanting to bask kind of in the joy of the moment and think more about the detail tomorrow, but there are challenges ahead. frederik pleitgen joins us now live. what's your vantage point there, frederik? what have people been telling you about what comes next? >> reporter: what comes next is really one of the big questions but let me show you our vantage point overlooking what's been going on on the square. i can tell yous it absolutely amazing. people dancing in the street. people with flags. down there you see a whole crowd
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of people absolutely excited. one of the questions many people ask, when these democratic elections are going to be taking place, obviously a lot of people that i've been speaking to, hala, say that they're quite happy with the military taking over control of this country, at least for an interim period and then they want to see democratic elections. one of the things that i find the people who were down in tahrir square all this time had very little thought about was who their future president is going to be. every time you ask people who they think should rule this country after hosni mubarak, they always say, the people will decide. that's simply because there is really no clear leader. clearly a lot of people are not happy with omar suleiman but they have no idea of who they want to come after this, hala. >> state television is announcing that a statement from the military will come soon. egypt is now ruled by the higher military council. president hosni mubarak a couple of hours ago transferring powers to the military, not to his vice president seeing as too close to
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the old guard, the old leadership here or over there, i should say. i just got back and still saying here, frederik. so looking forward then, we heard from mohamed elbaradei that a year sounded to him like a good kind of length of time before elections could take place in the country. do protesters want elections earlier than that, though? >> reporter: i think a lot of people would like to have elections earlier than that. i think right now we can see the mood going on on tahrir square and people i've been talking to really in this sort of i would say democratic mood. they want elections. they want -- >> we've got to go to state television for an announcement by the military. >> translator: people, on this historic and decisive moment in the history of egypt and with issuing of the decision of president hosni mubarak to step down from the post of president
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and assigning the higher council of military to the affairs of the nation and as we all know, the gravity and -- unfolding of this issue in face of the demands of our great nation everywhere to bring about decisive changes, the higher military council is studying this issue with the help of god, the greatest, to reach the dreams of our great people and a higher military council will later issue more statements to outline the measures and decisions that will be taken and followed stressing at the same time that this is not a replacement of the logistical nation that we have. the higher military council is expressing all its appreciation
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to president hosni mubarak for what he has offered in the path of national service at a time of war or peace and on his national decision and stance in putting interests of the nation at the forefront and in this context, the higher military council is expressing all its appreciation for the life of the martyrs. those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom and security of their nations and for all the people of our nation and god be in our help, peace be upon you. >> that was -- >> go ahead, wolf. a very brief statement. it won't take long to sum it up. >> yeah, no, it's very interesting statement that military officer made to the
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people of egypt, reaffirming what we had been told was happening, that the egyptian military specifically, the higher council of the egyptian military would now run the affairs of the nation. obviously this is a new development for the egyptian military, something they're not necessarily used to. they're going to have some serious meetings now on what that means, i was intrigued and, hala and anderson, if you want to weigh in on this on the appreciation that officer expressed to president hosni mubarak now former president hosni mubarak who made all these sacrifices, he said, for the egyptian people but now he's gone. we think he's in sharm el sheikh. we're not exactly 100% sure where he and his family are. we do know, and, anderson, you reported a little while ago that the swiss government says they are freezing any financial assets that mubarak or his family might have in swiss banks right now and there's -- there's anyone can guess how much money they have. various estimates from the low billion to as much as 70
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billions of dollars that they've amassed over the years, but it's clear that the military is now in charge of what's happening. i'm not exactly sure, maybe one of you could help me, what is going to be the role, if any, of the vice president omar suleiman? is he running the situation right now or is he out of the situation, as well? >> i believe he's out of the situation. i asked that question to mohamed elbaradei, and that was his understanding, as well, that he is gone from the situation, as well. whether or not that's true, i mean, this is a man, you know, who has long links with the military, who ran the intelligence services, so the whole interior ministry which has some million and a half employees by some estimates, secret police, informers, they have far more employees than the military has, the military has i think about 500,000 or so, so it's not clear to me exactly where suleiman is, what role, if any, he plans to play.
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i think it's also to point out, hala and wolf, not only did the military officer there want to specifically praise mubarak, which i think is more of not wanting to humiliate t man and we started to hear that from a number of protesters and people like mohamed elbaradei, saying it's important, you know, he doesn't need to be humiliated. he doesn't need to leave egypt but he just needs to go. you also heard from that officer which we have not heard from mubarak and we have not heard from the vice president in the last two weeks him saluting literally saluting what he called the martyrs and for those in the audience, our viewers who may be wondering who the martyrs are i believe he's referring directly to the lives, the protesters whose lives have been lost in the last two plus weeks often in these demonstrations in the last couple of weeks we would see people carrying posters, excuse me, people carrying posters with pictures of their loved ones who had been
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killed in the protest movement, and they were called the martyrs, so i think that's who at the end he was saluting in addition to mubarak, wolf. >> yeah, he may have been saluting those martyrs then at the same time as a military officer he may have been referring to the martyrs over the years over the generations in egypt that specifically the soldiers who died in battle on behalf of egypt. >> i think listening to that, yeah, i think listen to that he was referring to those individuals who lost their lives over the last 18 days. that's what it sounded like to me, the martyr, it's a way of describing in arabic a commonly used term for people who died sort of in the pursuit of a goal in this case revolutionary overthrow of the regime. what i found interesting the military is positioning itself very neutrally there as a facilitator, political transition entity and institution by on the one hand
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sort of praising mubarak and expressing appreciation to hosni mubarak, but on the other hand also expressing appreciation to those martyrs as they're commonly called in arabic, those people who died in that struggle so it's very interesting how in terms of public relations what the military is doing on this important day. >> you know, it's also fascinating, especially to those of us who watched egyptian state media over the years earlier today even before the official announcement from the vice president that mubarak was stepping down, we saw those anchor, those journalists apologizing to the people of egypt for the lies in effect that they had been forced to tell over the years on egyptian state media. i don't know, anderson, if you caught that or, hala, if you saw that, but that was a dramatic development when you see these egyptian journalists on state media apologizing to the people saying we didn't really mean to report all these awful things but we had no choice. >> well, you know, shahira amin
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who resigned two weeks ago or maybe a week and a half ago because she didn't want to tell lies any longer, so some people did make a stand earlier on, but obviously we're now seeing a number of those anchors saying, you know, that they're apologizing. it was always interesting to hear from shahira amin once she reinhaved her position she would describe how the lies were spread. basically they would get a press release from the ministry of interior dictating how they were supposed to discuss the protesters to talk about foreign influence, that foreigners were behind this, that the protesters were being paid, that there were, you know, foreign powers behind them, that they were eating kentucky fried chicken and, you know, being fed while in the square, all of which were just lies spread by the state, which state tv very quickly was putting out. >> yeah, it was a major development, hala, you followed
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the egyptian media for a long time. just to see that unfold and if you had watched, if you had watched the egyptian media over these past 18 days, anderson is right, and ben wedeman has reported extensively for us about some of the outrageous allegations they were making against these demonstrators at tahrir square, allegations saying the u.s. or other foreign powers were funding them, were responsible for them and it was, you know, just wild, wild accusations. let's go back to tahrir square right now. arwa damon is on the scene for us. arwa, what's going on? >> reporter: well, celebrations are most definitely continuing. there's still a live band here. people still very happy and despite their exhaustion, very willing to continue expressing that. i'm joined now by ahmed. sir, what are your feelings right now? >> best experience experience i had since my wedding.
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>> reporter: what does this mean for you, for egypt? what sort of changes will you see to your day-to-day life. >> end of corruption, freedom where potentially everything could happen. we've had our chains broken. it's very hard to understand what freedom means until you lose it and you try to find it. >> reporter: and you're a businessman with a number of closing shops around this very square so you've obviously taken a very severe economic blow. >> yes, yes. >> reporter: how are you going to begin recovering from that? what's the next step for people like you? >> i don't care how much i lost. i'm looking at how much i can gain just from this revolution. it's beautiful because it's just the kids next door who did it, unarmed, no political agenda, they are not political parties, kids next door who did it only
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with determination. >> reporter: this is obviously come at a great cost for all egypt. >> yes. >> reporter: how is this country going to recover moving forward? how are the various social systems going to be brought back together again? >> just continue -- we were being -- more than -- we were being accepted for more than the amount of upon that it cost egypt throughout this whole revolution there. i believe if we weed out the corruption, it will pick up in no time. >> reporter: so the future most definitely a bright one, you would say. >> i'm sorry. >> reporter: the future is a very bright one. >> the future is a very bright one, we hope, as long as this revolution does not get manipulated by people with a political agenda. as long as the military stands to their word and to give the power to the people, so that's the issue. i'm sorry if i interrupt you.
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some people ask me to ask to free all of the political prisoners who are in prison knowing from them that cnn and the whole wide world is going to be watching. >> reporter: not a problem at all. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> reporter: that just gives you an idea of how the revolution -- gives you an idea of the sentiment right now, some of the concerns that people do have for the future. they have one for the moment and they most certainly are riding that wave of happiness right now but it is going to take quite a lot of time to put the country back together again. >> the work is only beginning. we're getting word from the white house, the president of the united states, barack obama, will address the nation, indeed, the world at 3:00 p.m. eastern. that's a little bit less than an hour and a half from now, 3:00 p.m. eastern, the president will be in the grand foyer over at
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the white house. he'll speak out on his reaction to the historic moment in egypt right now, the revolution, which has succeeded. at 3:30 p.m. eastern, a half hour later there will be a briefing at the white house, as well. we'll, of course, have coverage here on cnn, anderson, all of this unfolding very, very rapidly. >> very rapidly and a lot of unanswered questions and, again, i mean the story obviously of today and tonight is this extraordinary celebration and the pictures tell that story, extraordinarily well, years of pent-up fear and anger and degradation exploding in just hours of joy, but, again, so many unanswered questions. exactly what does this mean to have this military government now ruling? what happens as that man mentioned in the square to all the political prisoners, to all those who have been detained, an unknown number have been
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detained. wael ghonim that we spoke to, that google executive on leave that helped start these protests on his facebook, he brought it up, as well, you know, we don't know how many -- he said there were as many as maybe a thousand people. we, frankly, don't know. i interviewed one reporter last night for radio for europe who was arrest ed -- he was a westerner arrested, held in detention for 28 hours and heard egyptians around him being electrocuted by authorities and being beaten by people. again, we don't know their names. we don't know how many people are still in detention so the question is what is going to happen to them? will they continue to rule under emergency rule? remember, mubarak has ruled for 30 years, his entire reign under emergency rule which allows secret police to arrest anyone at any time. people simply disappear. their families aren't notified what's happened to them. there's no way for their families to track down. they're in the custody of the
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secret police. so there's a lot of unanswered questions about what will happen in the hours and the days ahead. but, again, for the people right now who have suffered for so long, perhaps those questions can wait just a few more hours to be answered while they celebrate freedom, something they are tasting really for the first time in their lives. frederik pleitgen is in liberation square, as well. frederik, from your vantage point, what are you seeing? >> reporter: well, what i'm seeing, anderson, is how people are turning this main road, this main bridge that goes over the nile more and more into a party ground, if you will, holding up traffic. people singing and chanting there in the streets, a lot of them, of course, just making their way over here right now. it seems like almost all of egypt is trying to make its way here and, you know, again people as you said, they say right now this is their moment to celebrate. they want to celebrate the fact that hosni mubarak has stepped down.
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they're not thinking very much, they say, about who the next president is going to be, about how their country will unfold. i think one of the things that was important in the military statement we saw before was that the military was trying to ensure the people here that things would go in a nonchaotic way, in an orderly way, it would go on, their lives would not be unraveled because that's one of the things the mubarak government was talking so much about in the past couple of day, remember when he was talking about how the foreign media was inciting people, how hosni mubarak there would be chaos, i think right now the specter of that has sort of gone but the military saying that it would keep things this order so right now this is just a really massive celebration going down there on the 6th of october bridge across the nile which, of course, also was a battleground only a couple of days ago. and you know, when i was down there, i was seeing people who were just bursting into tears, letting their emotions just go freely because so many of these people, you know, for the past
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30 years, they just haven't been able to do that and i've spoken to people who said, they were sort of it their early 30s saying i've never had anybody else except this ruler, anybody except hosni mubarak and so for them this is obviously all a very new feeling. freedom of speech, freedom of expression, being able to come out here and wave these flags and chant these slogans, so it is an absolutely amazing experience, anderson. >> and, frederik, this is going to go on -- i mean, does anyone know how long it will go on for and are there any plans for people ultimately to leave the square? once the celebrations die down, do we know will protesters continue to stay in the square or is that -- is there a plan yet? >> reporter: i don't think there's any plans whatsoever. none that i heard. from the looks of it it will go on for the whole night from what
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i can see and probably for the better part of tomorrow, as well, of course, some work here so certainly a day families will go out anywhere. as far as the square is concerned, i believe the things in the square will go on for a couple of days to come simply because the square itself has become so much more, you know, sophisticated. the whole infrastructure there, people were building houses, people were building toilets and wash areas for the people so i think that will go on for a little bit then it will probably die down at some point. remember, this square has just become such a focal point of this nation that not everybody who is coming there was even a demonstrator. there were people bringing their kids there just to show them what all of this is about and that will probably continue for the next couple of day, people will visit this place as such a historic place, the place where the revolution that swept egypt started and where it ultimately ended and as the people who started it in that square,
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eventually brought down the strong man president who had ruled over this country for 30 years, people who at the beginning were laughed off. young people on twitter and facebook posting things on the internet who ultimately then started this thing that snowballed so i believe this is going to go on for another couple of days and certainly the celebrations down there in the street are going to go on, as well. it might be a little slower in the morning but certainly this is going to go on for quite a while. if i may say one thing, i was being a german citizen in 1989 and the celebrations when the wall came down, took a very long time, anderson. >> how does this compare in terms of crowds in terms of atmosphere? >> reporter: this -- it's very, very similar. i mean it really is. if i remember the night the berlin wall came down when the people were going from east to west berlin and everybody was cheering on everybody just a
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very positive atmosphere, very chaotic one, but a very positive one. this is definitely something that compares and the time frame is almost the same. i mean the berlin wall was up for 28 years. hosni mubarak was in power for 30 years so i can certainly relate to what the people down there are feeling at this point in time and just the sense of relief they have, the sense of exploring something new, exploring, as i said, these new freedoms, freedom of expression, being able to say whatever you want. being able to talk to our cameras. you witnessed it, as well, when you were in tahrir square, how everybody on that square wanted to come to you and tell you a story, tell you what was wrong with egypt and tell it to the world. that's something these people haven't experienced in such a long time. you could feel just how badly they craved to do that now that they can, anderson. >> extraordinary, frederik, thanks. let's go back to wolf. >> anderson, thank you. it's amazing stories that we're getting and these stories also i
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think are just beginning. william cohen, the former defense secretary from the clinton administration is joining us, also mona el tahiri, as well. the commander in chief of the egyptian military, field marshal tantawi, i assume you know him. >> i do. i worked with him while i was in the pentagon and he had served side by side with president mubarak. whether he will continue or passed on to a younger generation we will see. we had dealings with him and he was very helpful in terms of communicating our ideals, as well, to that military and one of the many benefits if you look at how this unfolded, the professionalism of the egyptian military i think also is a credit to our own military that had deep, deep ties with him and really inculcating those, not
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just using your force to hold them down, but rather responding to it in a very professional way. >> you're encouraged that the military over this transition period towards elections and democracy is in charge. >> i'm very confident on a temporary basis, we'll see as enevolutionary process whereby the egyptian people will expect this military to maintain control and stabilize situations until such time as the building blocks for a true democracy can be established. they're very confident with that military now. but they don't want to see a permanent hold by the military over the society. >> mona, before we talk politics, the future of egypt, go ahead and just express your thrilling feelings right now, all of us who know you, just want to hear what you have to say. >> i'm ecstatic, wolf. i mean i was on a radio show when the news came through and one of my friends called me from boston and he was just crying. he was just saying, mona, he's
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gone. mona, he's gone. i'm going to start crying now remembering it and went back on the radio show and bawling my eyes out telling them i cannot express how ecstatic we are. there is a long road ahead no doubt but the happiest day of my life and stop and celebrate and salute the courageous egyptians who in 18 days in a beautiful and peaceful way brought down a dictator of 30 years, it's a wonderful moment. i cannot be hannier. so proud to be egyptian. >> and so what do you say about president -- now former president mubarak. was he courageous in his final act or basically had no choice and good riddance? what do you say to mubarak? >> well, first of all i've got to say as an egyptian, it's wonderful to say former president because we have not been able to do that in a long time. i think when push came to shove, the armed forces and i got to say the egyptian armed forces, have great relationship with
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their american equivalent but this is the egyptian armed forces coming through for thorren people with no help whatsoever basically realizing it was a case of egypt on one side and hosni mubarak on the other side and they chose the right side. they did the right thing. and hosni mubarak was trying to dig in his heels, it showed how out of touch he was with what was happening in the country because of touch he was with what was happening in the country. the more stubborn he became, the more people pulled out into the streets in the hundreds of thousands. i don't think he was courageous. i think that he would have been courageous if at the very beginning when he realized the people's will was for freedom he would have said, i also choose egypt besides myself. up until yesterday, he kept talking about himself and not egypt. all egyptians recognize the armed forces today chose egypt. >> they certainly did. secretary cohen, if you're a dictator in tunisia, you're out. if you're a dictator in egypt, you're out.
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which dictator s in the region should be nervous? anyone in dicta torial power should be nervous. each country is different. but i was thinking this morning as i was watching this unfold of robert kennedy's words almost 50 years ago, maybe more than 50, he said that each time a man stands for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope and crossing each other from a million different centers and daring these ripples can build a wave or stream that can sweep down the mightiest wall of owe preparation and resistance. those words i think will be quoted by many people throughout the world today. the egyptian in terms of how they brought this revolution about, peacefully, and vigorously i think is going to be an example for many others and hopefully it will end with a democratic process that will be put in place in a reasonably foreseeable time so that the
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egyptian people can enjoy the fruits and benefits of a prosperous and democratic society. >> i think we have some reaction from ban ki-moon, the united nations secretary-general. if we have that clip ready, let's roll that now and then we'll continue this conversation. all right. we'll get that queued up and play it for our viewers. let me ask you, mona, what i asked mohammed elbaradei, what do you want to hear from the president of the united states from the white house in about an hour? >> i want president obama to say, i salute the egyptian people for showing the world they have led a peaceful revolution that is an example to everyone and i also salute the armed forces for choosing egypt. but i tell the armed forces it's
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very quickly time to move aside and make room for a civilian government in egypt. because one of the demands of everyone in egypt who joined this pro-democracy march and revolution was to get rid of mubarak and his regem but also to make egypt a civilian state because we've been ruled by army men since 1952. i think it's important to get the moral support from the outside. i want everyone in the united states and across the world to recognize what a turning point this is, how peaceful it was. think of every young arab watching what happened in egypt and tunisia. they're understanding that through this empowerment they can bring about change in their countries peacefully. that is an incredibly intoxicating and empowering message because all we hear from the middle east is violence, violent arabs. we have now seen active, proactive arabs showing the world, we can bring about peaceful change. it's a wonderful message. >> this is a moment for the
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united states, secretary cohen, right now to not only bask in the moment but take advantage of this moment and continue to promote democratic reform throughout the region. >> indeed. it started with promoting it in iraq. it hopefully will spread to iran and i would hope that the rulers in iran are worried about what has taken place here because they can see the power evof the people and perhaps the united states can continue to raise that lamp of liberty very high and they can sweep down that wall of oppression that exists in iran. >> a lot of us remember that speech president obama gave in cairo in 2009. i'm not sure he expected that this would develop. i don't know if that was a result of this or what the impact was, but it was a dramatic speech at the time. now we're seeing what's happening on the streets of cairo. i suspect it will spread elsewhere. mona will be standing us later when we continue our coverage. secretary cohen, thanks to you. we're not going anywhere. hala, about an hour from now we expect to hear from the
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president of the united states at the white house. we'll get his reaction to all of this history. back to you for the time being. >> all right. we've talked a lot about the power of social media in all of this and the massive protest movement that forced the egyptian president hosni mubarak to step down. well, this facebook page in memory of a young egyptian businessman killed by police sparked thousands of demonstrators to take to the streets on january 25th. i'm talking about a facebook page, if we can get it up, that's fine. if not, a quick description. there we are. we are all -- this is a young man beaten to death witnesses said two policeman attacked him and killed will h eed him. this was really the virtual meeting point for pro-democracy protestors in egypt. twitter and facebook was also used in tunisia. and wael ghonim, the google executive detained for 12 days
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said, look to facebook for where the next revolution will take place. lauren, the author of the new arab journalism and identity in a time of turmoil. really, facebook is one of the characters in all of this in the way this drama, this revolution, has played out. >> absolutely. and hala you said earlier an 18-day revolution and you're absolutely right. but the reality is that these digital activists have worked for years. there was a strike a couple of years ago that was literally organized off a facebook page. the bloggers had used youtube and twitter to uncover torture and other governmental malfeasance. this has been a dij cal revolution in the making for quite a while. >> what's interesting is you mentioned quite a while. over the years i've covered in the middle east some bloggers that have been harassed and intimidated by secret police for posting videos online of alleged
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police torture, and that kind of thing, especially in egypt. really, taking huge personal risks in doing so. and i found it interesting that we should all look to social media to see where the next revolution will take place. what did you make of what wael ghonim said? >> well, i think he's absolutely right. i think social media is a critical tool, organizing tool, for the activists. but we also have to remember a place like egypt only has about 20% internet penetration so this is an important tool for the activists to network. but when the internet was cut, when sns was cut, phones were cut, people still turned out in the street because that's the power of television. the two of these things combined really is a perfect storm. >> right. well, jokes are being exchanged now, the mood is a little lighter. one of those tweeters has 30,000, 40,000 followers, not exactly sure.
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a joke he's sharing, after victory friday in tunisia and liberation friday in egypt, kadafi has decided to abolish all fridays. now is time for a bit of chuckle after all the drama that led to this historic moment. lorne, we appreciate your take on things. >> my pleasure. >> we'll take a short break. we'll be right back. stay with us for more of our coverage of this historic day in egypt and around the arab world.
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kadafi. i want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. cnn's special coverage, revolution in egypt. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. >> i'm hala gorani in atlanta. >> and i'm anderson cooper in new york. this is 9:00 p.m. in egypt where 18 days of apt tie-government demonstrations have ended 30
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years of a dictatorship. the revolution culminated three hours ago with a single sentence from egypt's vice president on state tv. >> translator: i, president mohammed hosni mubarak, has decided to step down as president of egypt and has assigned the higher council of the armed forces to run the affairs of the country. >> and with that three decades of fear and anger and discontent exploded in joy and relief, which has not abated to this moment. let's listen. . >> well, from all indications, president hosni mubarak had left the presidential palace in cairo some time before that announcement was made.
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we believe he's in sharm al shake, 150 miles from these scenes of jubilation in cairo. >> we're expecting to hear from president obama here in washington in about an hour. last night he was quick to dismiss mubarak's long-awaited announcement that he was turning over most but not necessarily all of his presidential powers and staying in office until september. protestors rejected that as well, swelling in number, converging on the presidential palace as well as state tv. until word came that their ultimate demand had been met. >> the question, of course, what happens now? the military is in charge, publicly saluting both the departure of mubarak and the martyrs, their term, for those who have given their lives in this 18-day revolt. >> dramatic situation unfolding, history unfolding. cnn's ivan watson is outside the presidenti presidential palace in cairo right now. what's happening, ivan, where you are? >> reporter: i've started moving downtown. i'm stuck on a highway walking
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in gridlock traffic because the highway is just clogged up with people. families in their cars honking horns and waving flags and playing music and just celebrating. it's all smiles here, an incredible scene of celebration here. i understand we have some video that we filmed moments after the announcement was made that hosni mubarak was going to reside. we filmed it right by the presidential palace. let's take a look at this and the reaction from the crowd then. >> reporter: scenes of euphoria and celebration. just moments ago the news came out. hosni mubarak is stepping down. now they're chanting we're here, we're here, egyptians are here.
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>> you can see these live pictures from tahrir square, those flames there are flares. people are celebrating, they're dancing, they're singing on the streets. it's just after 9:00 p.m. there. they're only beginning to taste freedom right now, real freedom. they're not worried about secret police. they're not worried about security services. they're going about, just thrilled that the egyptian president, now the former egyptian president, hosni mubarak is gone. we're not exactly sure where he is. he might be in the resort town in southern sinai right now, but he's gone and we've received official word from the government of siwwitzerland tha mubarak's funds or family's funds that may or may not be in any banks in switzerland, all of those funds are frozen. >> frederik pleitgen is overlooking tahrir square. we've been overlooking those scenes from up above over the past few weeks. we've been within the crowd as
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well. but tell me a bit more of what you're seeing as this night of celebration continues to unfold in cairo right now, fred. >> reporter: yeah, hala, it continues to unfold and continues to get bigger from our vantage point here. if you want to take te'i look, as you can see, of course, tahrir square and that highway thoroughfare we've been talking about that goes right through central cairo here, the crowd is getting bigger and bigger. we're seeing more cars, more cars stuck actually. more people on the streets. they've turned this place into one big party ground, if you will. so it certainly is an amazing scene that we're able to witness up here. there's just so many people who are just trying to take in this moment, this moment that many people say they've won their freedom. there's people down there who have come here on motorcycles, a lot of people walking around. it seems -- >> i believe we've lost the signal there with fred pleitgen,
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overlooking tahrir square. this is a ground level view of tahrir square. usually it's full of cars and traffic, almost impossible to cross the street. for the last 2 1/2 weeks it's been a rallying point for the demonstrators. they seem to be having a bit of fun with the fire. i think i'd be a little more careful. tonight is a night of celebration. there are many questions to be answered over the coming weeks and months. opposition parties how they will be organized, when elections will take place. what will be the role of the interior ministry and the secret police who has intimidated and harassed egyptians over the last decades. will that be dismantled? will the military succeed in turning it into a democratic state? right now, though, flame throwers in tahrir square. wolf? >> it's like a carnival, a circus, a celebration. we saw fireworks, we're hearing the music, seeing the dancing, the flame throwing. it's a party.
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let them enjoy. this is a moment. wow, they've got to be careful, though, with those flames. you can see them waving that towel and dancing. it's an exciting moment. let's bring in jamie ruben, former assistant secretary of state who served during the clinton administration. amidst all of this celebration, jamie, there are pitfalls, especially for the united states. what do you think the u.s. pitfalls are right now? what should the u.s. be doing and what shouldn't the u.s. be doing? >> well, i don't think there are huge pitfalls. this is one of the great things about the change in this part of the world that is occurring on president obama's watch, in much the same way that change has occurred in eastern europe during president bush sr.'s watch. these are things, you need to be careful, be cautious, not take too much credit. but i don't think we should expand our expectations.
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the two countries where this happened, tunisia and egypt, are countries where there has been always a certain degree of tolerance, where the military essentially wouldn't fire on its people. unfortunately that's not true in iran, in libya, in syria, in saudi arabia. so i think we should be careful not to draw grand conclusions. in the near term, however, the most important signal is what the military does about emergency powers. if this party continues, i would expect for a couple of days, and people finally return to normalcy, the military better move quickly, i would suspect, to lift the emergency powers because that will be the signal that things really are going to change. and what will happen is you've seen the people on the streets essentially use their power to assemble as a grand negotiating
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leverage. every time mubarak took a step in the right direction and it wasn't enough, the people reassembled in bigger numbers and he moved further and further and further. so if the military doesn't take that first step or something like it to lift emergency powers, then you're going to have people assemble again. how many, it's hard to say. so there's going to be a back-and-forth between the people who generated this revolution based on tolerance and real true democratic values and the military on the other hand, which has is a respected institution but let's face it not a democratic institution. >> in about 15 minutes we'll be hearing from the president of the united states. i assume they're putting the finishing touches on his statement he'll be making from the grand foyer over at the white house right now. i assume every word is being carefully weighed for potential pitfa pitfalls, dangers out there. saying the right thing, having the right tone is critical right now. should he say more, or should he
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say less? >> i think less is better. this is happening. the joy there is happening. the freedom, the liberation in liberation square is happening without the united states in the driver's seat. we haven't been in the driver's seat all week. it's sort of ironic that the idea of democracy in the middle east is something that was initially pushed hardest by president bush, george w. bush, and president obama and other democrats resisted this formulation of how hard we should push democracy in the middle east. it's ironic that on president obama's watch is when this real dramatic revolution should take place. so i think it would be a mistake to claim credit. it would be a mistake to do anything other than to celebrate the egyptian people's victory in this revolution and to make clear that, you know, we will be
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on the side of democratic change and using whatever authority we have or persuasion or suggestions we have to keep down that path towards this ultimate goal of free and fair elections. we shouldn't expect it to happen quickly. and we should signal to the egyptian military perhaps more privately than publicly that we are going to be watching that carefully and hoping and expecting -- i think the key word is "expect" here -- them to do what's necessary to allow a broad dialogue, to allow a discussion of all the relevant constituencies so that when and if this election happens that it was free and fair. that's starting with tv, free and fair television, freedom to assemble parties. all of this stuff is going to have to be done, and it's never been done before in egypt. >> jamie rubin is the executive editor of the bloomberg view.
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we heard earlier from mohammed elbarad elbaradei, the egyptian who's been among those protesting that he thinks it could take a year to properly make all the arrangements for free and fair elections in egypt. jamie, thanks very much. we're counting down, about 45 minutes, a little bit more, from now we'll be hearing from president obama at the white house. we'll of course carry his remarks live. but meantime the partying continues in cairo, elsewhere in egypt. i suspect throughout the region a lot of folks are celebrating right now. we're going to go back to the streets of cairo, we're going to get reaction from around the world. much more of our special coverage coming up right after this. [ female announcer ] enjoy a complete seafood dinner for two for just $29.99 at red lobster. with fresh salads and biscuits. your choice of entrees. and an appetizer or a dessert to share.
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the onglyza value card program. basic. preferred. at meineke i have options on oil changes. and now i get free roadside assistance with preferred or supreme. my money. my choice. my meineke. we have seen these crowds now for several hours, but the joy is not diminished, neither for them nor for all of us watching around the world. i'm joined by a professor whose knowledge and love of egypt and knowledge of history and understanding of history has shepherded our coverage through some of the most dark hours through the last 18 days. professor, last night you said on my program, the angels of the
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arab world and the demons of the arab world are locked in battle. it seems at this hour that the angels have won. >> the angels have won, anderson, and i think we have to perhaps since you have become what i call son of the land, since you've really dipped into the nile and came back and really became hooked on the story, we should say congratulations to you as well, congratulations to us all in the way we've been on the side of the story. it just occurred to me watching this that this is it the kind of story you can watch on mute. you don't need analysts' words. you just need to listen to the egyptians and watch the egyptians. this man, hosni mubarak, dared them, defied them, he finally dared him and they answered his challenge and they've prevailed. it's an amazing moment for them and amazing moment for the arab world. because let's remember many, many arabs had begun to question whether freedom was in the dna of the arabs. well, the news is out. freedom is in the dna of the
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arabs. >> i should point out professor ajami is a professor at johns hopkins and hoover institution. mubarak and i believe his vice president were two men who came to believe, it seems to me, they were egypt. it seems to me the message from the protestors from day one, the message especially from the millions we are seeing now, is that they are not egypt, we are egypt. these people are egypt. >> yes. >> this is egypt. this is it the future of egypt. and this is what egypt needs to be. >> well, anderson, the truth of this country, the truth of egypt, is that there's a fault line. there are people who have the memory of democratic politics. they remember when egypt had a parliament. they remember when egypt had actually prime ministers who stepped aside and there was a circulation of power and alternation of power. these people, they have a memory of egypt before the free officer
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regime of 1952. then there are these egyptians who came into their own or who were important under the auto considerates, sadat and mubarak, then there were those born under the third of this auto crats, it could be argued that hosni is the worst leader they had in a long time. yes, the people wanted to retrieve their country from his dynasty and the people around him and his cronies. >> there was a moment -- i never said this at the time -- when i came to believe that these protestors were going to win. i wasn't sure, but i came to believe it. >> yes. >> the night that they were attacked by thousands of pro-mubarak thugs and mobs and they took corrugated steel barricades -- corrugated steel sheets from a nearby construction site, formed
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barricades and all night long manned the barricades and in between charges from their attackers, they would bang metal pipes and sticks and rocks on the barricades and it made this haunting sound, a drum beat. it's been used by warriors throughout the ages, but to me it was a message to the attackers, one that i heard all night long, and that message was, we are still strong, we are still brave, and you cannot defeat us. was there a moment that you felt these guys are going to win? >> well, i don't know. to quote a friend and a great reporter, fear has been defeated. fear was defeated. in fact, it was always this roller coaster of a ride. it was always just kind of a guess. will the regime crack down? will the people lose their heart? will they be scared again? and i must admit i decided early on -- and i think you bear witness to this -- that i wouldn't run ahead of the story. we would just see it on day to day. and we held our hearts, if you
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will, to use an arabic metaphor, in our hands as we watched these people stand up to the state that had terrified them, bullied them, exploited them, scared them, took away from them their sense of respect and then they regained their self-respect and spirit and were reminded of the love of egypt, that this is their country and if they have to rescue it, they have to go out and do it on their own. they couldn't wait for anyone. no one was coming to the rescue of the egyptians. no one was coming to tell mubarak that it's time to call off this despotism. so they did it the way it should be done. they did it on their own. >> and now do you still fear looking too far ahead to this, or do you have confidence that the military is in place, that the next few steps are clearer? or is it not clear? >> well, you know, when we spoke last night it seems like just an eternity, many, many, many months away. i told you i don't like
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military -- number one. they remind me of what befell the arabs, the soldiers coming and conquering power, breaking down ancient and proud societies, whether in iraq or syria or egypt or libya. so i don't like the military in politics, but we have to take the world as it comes. and if the military is the transitional force that will take the egyptians from this sordid autocracy from the house of mubarak to a democratic possibility, fine. so be it. i'm encouraged by one thing. i'm encouraged by this. that the military have watched the spectacle and they have seen the courage of the egyptians, the rebelliousness of the egyptians, the patriotism of the egyptians and that the military will simply when the time comes step out of the way. they know the dilemmas of egypt. they're huge, titanic economic cultural, political dilemmas. i don't think the military is
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eager to claim the power for itself. >> i found it telling -- and i may have been wrong who exactly they were talking to -- when we heard from the military spokesman a short time ago. he said he was saluting not just mubarak but also the martyrs. i assume he was talking about the martyrs, which is what egyptians are calling the people who have died in the last 18 days, the people whose pictures right now are being carried in that square. the fact that the head of the military would talk about those who had been killed in this, that was something we never heard from mubarak and from suleiman. >> exactly. mubarak at the end made a kind of -- he barely made a mention of the people who fell in this democratic struggle. but you're exactly right, when the head of the armed forces or military commander, one of the generals, when he speaks of the people who perish in this noble
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struggle as martyrs, it tells us that the military understand this protest, the depth of it and have respect for the kind of spectacle that we have been watching in the last 18 or 19 days. >> and that same fear has been defeated. there's no turning back. it's something i heard repeatedly protestors saying in one form or another in that square. it started off i think 18 days as a hope. it became a belief and a conviction. and i think tonight it is a fact. fear has been defeated and there is no turning back. let's toss it to wolf now in washington. wolf? >> anderson, thanks. thanks to foud as well. i just want to repeat what the military officer said on egyptian television. he said, the higher military council is expressing all of its appreciation for the life of the martyrs, those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom and security of their nations and for all the people of our nation and god be in their, help peace be upon you.
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let's go to arwa damon, on the streets of cairo, where the partying, celebration continues. >> reporter: hi, wolf. the celebrations here most certainly do continue. as i'm speaking to you, there are fireworks erupting on top of tahrir square, the people here forgetting about the fact that they've been keeping this up for more than two weeks. now just relishing in the fact that truly they are making history not just in egypt but around the entire region. this is dina joining me right now. dina, what are your thoughts? >> i am very happy now. always the people of egypt are very happy because mubarak is going out and all the people in egypt to change his life to be better. we need the change, the freedom.
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>> reporter: thank you, dina. sir, come forward, please. your thoughts today right now? >> yes. i think that we have changed the history of not only that of egypt but all over the world. many courses will be changed and even the egyptian people will change. now strongly in the political life in egypt and we will rebuild egypt. i repeat, we will rebuild egypt. >> reporter: what is the most important thing for egypt moving forward after today? >> okay, from now on, we will concentrate on building first of all a political -- so it can be build on political -- we can build a strong economy and we can make all the dreams of the people come true. >> reporter: do you have faith that the military will be able to lead this interim government? >> yes. i think our military is very
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intelligent to know that this is not a revolution of the military. it's a revolution of the people. so i don't think they'll stay for a long time in the regime. >> reporter: did you ever imagine this would be happening in egypt? >> one month ago i would never imagine. for me, i'm a young man and i always believed my generation will never make history for egypt. >> reporter: thank you very much. there you have it. you can see the crowds here still very, very active, very much out there relishing this moment. but of course realizing that the future is still going to be a challenge. this country does need to be rebuilt, but everyone believing it is going to be rebuilt in a better path, in a better way. >> arwa, i love hearing from the folks there with you, some of the people. if you've got some more opportunity, go ahead. let's get some more reaction from these egyptians who are so happy right now. >> reporter: absolutely. tell me, you're a student.
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>> yes. >> reporter: what is your reaction today? how are you feeling? >> i am feeling that freedom is now born. now. and all these people came here to take -- down. and come back to egypt. now egypt is being saved now. >> reporter: come back to egypt. we've been hearing that a lot. people want tourism back, they want business back. ma'am, what do you have to say? how are you feeling? >> i can't describe my feeling. i'm very happy. and i think that the victory in egypt, we have life filled with operation and -- freedom. i'm very happy along with egypt.
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thank you. >> reporter: and what is your emotion right now on this night and what are your worries for the future? what direction does the country need to go in? >> i think it will be a very good future and the country will be a developed country and there will be good education and good health and everything in egypt will be very, very good. old people also and -- and i can't describe. i very happy. i'm very happy. i can't tell you about my feeling. i'm very happy. thank you. >> reporter: thank you very much.
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that chant, if you can hear me, means keep your head held high, you are egyptian. >> egypt, egypt, egypt! >> reporter: hold your head up high. that's the chanting all around. >> egypt, egypt. >> hala, if you can hear me, it's wolf. hala, you can speak to some of these people in arabic, if they don't speak english, speak to them in arabic and translate for our viewers. that's fine, too. [ speaking in arabic ]
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>> reporter: he's saying he's very happy that -- >> so many are eager to come to the camera live to share their joy with the world. he's saying the people are very pro proud. >> reporter: they've been able to accomplish all of this, been able to bring down the entire government and hopefully god willing -- we are hoping that in the future the power will be able to hold the country together. long live egypt. long live egypt. >> reporter: he's congratulating the free youth of egypt.
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the youth that freed themselves and then freed all of egypt, were it not for the youth of egypt, egypt would not have been able to change. the youth who freed them are from their own blood. today something new has been started. that is freedom and it is freedom for the youth. >> arwa, we're just going to leave it there for a minute. we're hearing about freedom, pride, about the people of egypt being proud with the will of god and sha law they say will lead to a new government, new leadership, democracy. fareed zakaria is standing by. as we look forward to what might unfold in this country, in this
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crucial and essential country in the arab world, what are the chances that the military, this institution in egypt, will lead the country to democracy? >> i think right now you have to be hopeful because the power that this tahrir square has shown, the power that the egyptian people have shown, is so dramatic, is so strong that i think it would be very difficult for a general to be sitting there watching this and think about subverting it, think about blocking it, think about obstacles to it. you just look at these people. for $18 day they have been able to do this. they have brought this extraordinary people power, an irresistible force hit the immoveable object of hosni mubarak and destroyed him. in that context, it seems to me very difficult to imagine the
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military trying to subvert things. there will be international pressure. there will be the pressure of the international media. but most importantly there will be those people that you are watching, these crowds, these hundreds of thousands of egyptians who have finally reclaimed their country. and i think it will be very hard for the military at this point to try to do something that subverts it. it's a long story, and it may go in many different ways, but right now you have to be hopeful just looking at the energy of this crowd and the power of this crowd. you know, we talked about people power. when ferdinand marcos was toppled in the philippines, there it was nothing compared to this. this is one of the oldest entrenched autocratic systems in the world. this is the pharaoh's government and it has just been overturned. >> when we look at this opposition and pro-democracy activists, something that's been said very often over the last few weeks is that they don't
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really have organized opposition political parties. how do you turn people power into a pluralistic democracy by september? >> by september it will be hard. there are some groups, but you're right. most of the organized opposition movements other than the muslim brotherhood, which is banned, most of the legal ones, are phony, quite frankly, or are very, very fragile. many of them were created as almost official opposition parties, to run against mubarak's main party. but i think you might be surprised at how much democratic energy there is in egypt. this is a society with a very rich set of civic institutions, lawyers guilds, trade unions, perhaps they could be revived. i think it would be better if there were more time to do this, but there's also an energy here
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that you do want to tap. right now i think what people are doing is just drinking in the energy of being in this place. i think everyone who is at tahrir square will tell their children that they were at tahrir square on this day. that's the energy of this crowd right now. >> i think many of us will remember where we were on this day. it's such an important historic event. fareed zakaria, host of "gps," thanks so much. we're going to take a quick break. we'll continue to follow the egyptian revolution and its aftermath and the joy on the streets of cairo after this. she felt lost...
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18 days of protests, mubarak is gone, the last egyptian leader pushed out was king farouk in 1952. tahrir square tonight, unbelievable celebration, fireworks, victory, cheers. you name it. let's talk to student award winning author and blogger,
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ethar. you sid last night the mubarak speech made you feel punk'd. how do you feel now? >> i feel the opposite way now. maybe we punk'd him. you never know. things change so quickly. 24 hours and things have changed 180 degrees again. tomorrow they could change again. i'm guessing right now all people are just celebrating tonight and tomorrow we'll wake up and think of what this all really means and if this is actually a good thing or not a good thing. so we'll see. we'll see tomorrow. >> do you worry about that? i mean, do you worry about what happens next? we just saw about an hour or so ago a representative of the military making a statement. i wonder what you heard what he said, what you thought of it. >> of course. the fact that a military person is making a statement in and of itself is kind of worrying. but he gave a salute to the people who died. i don't think that's ever happened before. the statements they've been giving out throughout the day are very if not resuring but
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they know -- you look at the past two weeks, the idea that the military is with the people, that we're here to protect the people is kind of the dominant theme. but again you also have to remember they moved in quickly to establish control even though parliament will be suspended, the last time military took over in egypt, you had sadat and then mubarak. sot military move toward democracy has not exactly been very good for us. but everyone -- maybe tonight everyone is just a little too optimistic, a little too hopeful. but i feel people really deserve it just tonight. what we've proved so far is we're not going backward. the wheel of democracy isn't going to go backward. we set a path, the egyptian youth have spoken. we are the ones who are setting their rule, they're the ones in charge. they're the ones who are speaking. if it doesn't work out, they're going to -- it's become normal,
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a protest of a million. let's just go. so, yes, everyone's really optimistic. it's not the best, even people who -- i think they were so caught up in the fact that he said he was leaving not a lot of people concentrated or they didn't want to concentrate on the fact that he didn't just say he was leaving. he said he was leaving and giving the rule to the military. so that will be -- there's a lot more -- you know, you won the battle but not the war yet. there's still a lot to do, but it's an incredible milestone, unprecedented. this is -- yeah, it still hasn't sunk in. >> is it clear to you what role, if any, vice president suleiman still has? i talked to mohammed al bare aday. he understood that suleiman has no rule, that the military is in charge. is that your viewpoint? >> the thing is, i actually have the feeling that if mubarak hasn't appointed vice president suleiman, he could have had a very good chance of of being president.
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but it took 30 years for egyptians to direct their rage toward the president, they've done that toward the vice president in like the three or four days. so far the statement as far as i understand it, no, the military -- the vice president doesn't have any more. it kind of of puts you in a quandary because if the military is and the vice president doesn't have any power and we don't really have a political system, anyone who's really qualified. if you look at long term, we have elbaradei, the muslim brotherhood, but all of these are just entities, which -- are they really qualified? are these really are what we want? this is the democracy, the rights. high rate of of corruption, unemployment. who are the people who are qualified to do this? you have the ndp, everyone was resigned or fired, the ministers. our system never gave anyone the chance. even the constitution was amended in a way that it would be only somebody from the ndp that could run.
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what's our future? who will be in charge? what are we looking for, working toward? these are all questions that will have to be worked on and really flushed out because it's kind of like you're starting from scratch, which is a really great opportunity. we just have to make sure that we don't mess it up or that we don't ds-- you know, you have t revolution, a lot of promises are made. then things went back and you had people imprisoned and things happened. we have to make sure things move forward and this is a step forward to our people. this is also the anniversary of the iranian revolution. i feel it's a good sign. >> also the anniversary of the release of nelson mandela. you can look at it two ways, optimistically or not. when i talked to elbaradei, he said he thought egypt needed at least a year before it could move to actually have free and fair elections, that because mubarak has systematically
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eliminated any opposition, eliminated any real democratic institutions of the country, that those need to be built up in order to have real free and fair elections. dow agree with that? >> well, in a sense i do. but also, you know, a lot of things have been said and you really don't know what you're capable of until you're put in it. the vice president said a couple of days ago he didn't feel egyptians were ready for democracy. this is again speculation, but it all depends on how people, if people will be able to create committees, to create the demands and create people who will be able to set up these policies and to create -- i don't think -- i don't know. i'm really -- i'm leaning more towards it, but i don't know it will take -- it will take us time. something nobody was preparing for or practicing for it, if you can put it that way. it was all kind of of a done deal in people's minds and there was this acceptance and political apathy toward it. so it will take time. but i feel in the past three weeks egyptians have changed so
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much in terms of, we want to seize our future. we really -- they really do want to play an active role in making our countries better, even if it comes to something like -- there was a report that the average public employee works for an official 12 minutes a day. that's the productivity. i feel that things will really move better, even economically with all the country has lost in the last three yeweeks, we will rebuild and restructure. people will take an act offive role. it could take a year, it could take less. >> i've got to go, ethar. are you aware that there's the largest party happening outside in your streets? >> of course. i'm waiting to finish with you. i'm going to head out. i've got my flag ready. everybody is going to party. today is the day to party. >> i feel bad we're keeping you inside when the largest party you're ever going to have is going on. >> i read a tweet that ben wedeman and anderson cooper
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should get the egyptian nationality because of all your work. today is partying and tomorrow we'll work on making things better. >> we have an extraordinary team on the ground and a lot of of folks from a lot of different organizations have worked very hard to continue following this story. ethar, appreciate all you've done and talking with us. go have fun. we'll talk to you tomorrow. >> all right. bye. >> our coverage continues. we're going to take a quick break, and then we'll be right back. hey what's going on? doing the shipping. man, it would be a lot easier if we didn't have to weigh 'em all. if those boxes are under 70 lbs. you don't have to weigh 'em. with these priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service, if it fits, it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate.
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looking at live pictures of tahrir square, a huge party under way right now. the celebration continuing. they are thrilled. it was only a few hours ago that the vice president omar suleiman went on state television and he made this dramatic announcement. >> translator: i, president mohammed hosni mubarak, has decided to step down as president of of egypt and has assigned the higher council of the armed forces to run the affairs of the country. >> a short one sentence. that was it. mubarak steps down.
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he's now the former president. we believe he's in shar malshake, the resort town in southern sinai. we're not 100% sure, but that's the reporting we're getting. but he is no longer the president of egypt, the egyptian military, specifically the high council of the egyptian military, is now in charge, leading up to what everyone hopes will be democracy, free and fair elections. the president of the united states is getting ready to address the american people, indeed, the world, specifically also the egyptian people. you're looking at live pictures from the grand foyer over at the white house. in ten minutes we're told the president will make a statement on what has happened in egypt today. we'll, of course, have live coverage here on cnn and cnn international. hala, what a day this has been. i know they are thrilled at the white house, elsewhere here in washington, but they know there are huge, huge pitfalls down the road. >> well, this might be the hardest -- the hardest might be yet to come, wolf, for the
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egyptian people because the dictator is gone, now it's a question of transitioning to something different, to reshaping egyptian leadership, to sort of leading the country, hoping that the military will lead the country to a true democracy. and we saw a little bit earlier protestors converge on the tv building as an emblem of this regime wanting to sort of surround it, demonstrate by the presidential palace and tv building. one resigned from state-run television a week, ten days ago because she was tired of telling the regime's lies on air. she joins me live. i've got to ask you for your thoughts right now. where were you when the vice president announced that hosni mubarak was stepping down? >> hello, hala. i've spent the last 48 hours in tahrir square, but i got a bit
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tired and i decided to go home for a while. we didn't think that there would be any announcement soon because yesterday i was there in tahrir when president mubarak gave his speech, and it was a letdown. it was for everyone there. it was a huge disappointment. and the minute he finished, there was this outburst of anger, of people waving their shoes and hurling insults at him. everyone was stunned that he was -- that he had not announced that he would be stepping down. but that added to their resolve and they vowed to continue their revolt until he decides to step down. so it was a very tiring night for all of of us. i felt really down. i went back home for a while and i was back in tahrir square again this morning.
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we weren't expecting anything major. we just wanted to keep the pressure on this regime. and i joined the protestors in front of the television building. they had friday prayers in front of the building and, again, there was this outburst of anger. but i really thought that it would be a day of violence, and thank god that didn't happen. they were able to restrain their anger. and when i heard that there would be a statement from the presidency, you know, nobody knew what to expect. >> right. because we had heard so many times before, shahira, that the president would make statements and then the statements would be huge letdowns for protestors who wanted him to step down. in this case, it was the vice president suleiman saying, that's it, it's over. however, there are challenges ahead for your country. do you think that the military
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is going to be able to lead egypt, this country of 80 million, to democracy? >> we're hoping that this will be a transitional phase. it's been one military regime after the other here in egypt, and egyptians are really looking forward to a secular, civil state, a democratic state. so we're hoping that this will just be a transitional phase until free and fair elections are held. and then the egyptians will get to choose for themselves who their next leader will be, hala. >> shahi ra is an anchor there. she resigned from her job as an anchor on nile tv. a historic day for you. we're hearing that the egyptian
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stock market, closed for several days, is going to open on sunday for three hours. this is important because it's a measure of the confidence that outside investors and also egyptian investors have in their own economy and in whether or not this economy will be able to recover from several weeks really of having been crippled with tourists leaving the country and other businesses and corporations unable to operate normally. so there you have it, wolf and anderson. >> we're getting ready, by the way, hala, within five minutes we expect to hear from the president of the united states. he'll be speaking to the american people from the grand foyer at the white house. we'll get his reaction to what's going on. we're going to have extensive coverage and analysis of that as well. anderson, this is one of the days as all of us like to say we'll never forget. >> yeah. and also remember where we were when we first heard the news, as i'm sure every egyptian will be doing as well. and last night we heard from
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president obama from a statement from the white house. they seemed blindsided by president mubarak's refusal at that point to step down. it will be very interesting to see, as we learn more in the days ahead, of exactly what transpired in egypt, in the mubarak statehouse, that -- what made the difference between then and now. was this a coup? i mean, is it correct to say that this was a military coup? we really don't know the backstory on it. that's something, wolf, we'll try to figure out in the days ahead. >> yes. let's take a very short break. stand by to hear from the president of the united states as we watch these crowds continuing to celebrate in cairo.
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. good afternoon here in the united states and good evening to all of our viewers around the
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world. i'm wolf blitzer joined by my colleagues anderson cooper and hala gorani for this special coverage of the of revolution in egypt. >> if you'let me bring you up-t on the fast-moving and historic events in egypt. you're seeing live pictures there of liberation square in the heart of cairo. joyful celebrations in the streets cairo after president hosni mubarak quits and puts egypt's military in charge. we're waiting reaction from president barack obama. the surprise announcement coming from egypt's vice president today. protestors in tahrir square erupted into cheers and shouts of "god is great" and "egypt is free." a high ranking military official told cnn talks are already under way to dismiss parliament and plan for


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